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The Lone Ranger (2013)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/17/2013

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/13/2013

When we think of hype, we typically picture a product which is being promoted or pushed without having proven itself. Within the entertainment industry, hype is out of control, as we are bombarded by television commercials, print ads, and on-line pop-ups. Itís reached the point where I truly worry about people who arenít aware of certain pop-culture events. However, hype can also be negative. Thanks to the world of ďinternet buzzĒ in which we live, if just a handful of people view something in a negative light, word about this bleak outlook can spread like wildfire and potentially corrupt a viewerís bias, which should, in theory, be intact. This past summer, no movie received as many negative vibes as The Lone Ranger. At first, the casting of Johnny Depp in the film created some excitement, but following that, it seemed that everything became negative. Was this the reason that the film didnít make back half of its budget? I donít know, but we now have a chance to explore the movie on home video.

The Long Ranger actually opens in 1933 at a carnival in San Francisco. There, a young boy (Mason Cook) meets Tonto (Johnny Depp), an aged Native American who is part of a Wild West exhibit. Tonto tells the boy the story of The Lone Ranger. Sixty-seven years earlier, John Reid (Armie Hammer), newly graduated from law school, arrives in the old West, where he hopes to help his brother, Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), enforce the law. While on the train, John meets Tonto and witnesses the escape of well-known outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). John joins Dan and a posse on a journey to find Cavendish, which does not end well. Left for dead, John is discovered by Tonto, who helps him recover. Armed with a mask made by Tonto, John now finds himself on a mission of vengeance and he soon learns that corruption runs deep in this untamed land.

So, after hearing months of negative comments from fanboys and seeing the film's poor box-office results, I sit down to watch The Long Ranger and within the first few minutes, the film contains an actual train wreck. I thought to myself, "This review is going to write itself." But, as I kept watching, I realized that The Long Ranger isn't a bad movie, it's a flawed movie. We'll get into what that means in a moment, but for now, let's talk about why being a flawed movie is perceived as bad. If you make a movie that isn't perfect which costs a few million dollars and features a cast of unknowns, nobody cares. But, in this economy, if your flawed movie costs an estimated $215 million and stars one of the biggest actors in the world, people are going to ask questions. Granted, no movie is perfect, but The Long Ranger wanders off of the path just enough times for us to wonder who was minding the store and where all of that money went.

The movie's biggest problem is exactly that -- it's too big. At 2 1/2 hours, The Long Ranger is easily thirty minutes too long, if not more. Director Gore Verbinski and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer clearly mis-read the success of their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and assumed that everyone wants to see the longest movie possible. But, all four of the films in that series overstay their welcome and The Long Ranger, with it's never-ending backdrop of desert scenery, feels even longer. It's funny to think that Verbinski got his start in commercials, as he's anything but concise now. Writers Justin Haythe and Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio (the latter two of which worked on the Pirates films) pack the movie with sub-plots and asides which simply make the story more and more convoluted. The movie is devoid of suspense or surprises -- I don't think anyone will be surprised when one of the villains shows his true colors -- and I would have preferred a much shorter movie filled with dumb action, as opposed to one which wants to cram in too much story. Thereís also a question of the movieís tone. Itís goes from silly to exciting to sad to surreal, and can never seem to find a groove.

And this may seem neither here nor there at this point, but one must question the motivation behind the movie. The Lone Ranger's heyday was in the 1950s, but we've seen many, many older properties dragged into the modern era, so this isn't unprecedented. But, unlike many of these, I have to ask, "Do any kids know who The Lone Ranger is?" There was an attempt to revive the character in 1981 with The Legend of The Lone Ranger, and that movie became an infamous flop. Also, this movie seems to actually be making fun of The Lone Ranger at times. Does that seem like a good idea, as older fans of the character will probably want to check this out. In addition, it seems that every few years, someone in Hollywood decides that they need to try and bring the Western back, but this rarely sticks. Sure, Verbinski made what was essentially a Western with Rango and it was successful, but an animated movie about an insane chameleon doesn't count.

Again, having said all of that, despite itís density and itís questionable existence, The Lone Ranger isnít a bad movie, and it certainly has its moments. Verbinski certainly knows how to handle action set-pieces and the movie contains some great scenery. Hammer tries to be more than just a pretty boy here and he does a good job of creating an appealing character. As noted above, the tone of the film is odd at times, and there are several strangely funny moments. Of course, the reason to see The Lone Ranger is Deppís performance as Tonto. He appears to be in a completely different film at times and he does a fantastic job of playing it straight and solemn even when heís said something incredibly weird. I think that if you go into The Lone Ranger with the right frame of mind and enough free time to watch all of it, youíll find a movie which may not justify its price tag, but does offer some thrills and laughs.

The Lone Ranger presents us with a nearly unrecognizable William Fichtner on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain (even in the bright desert scenes) and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good -- although the movie leans towards an Earth-tone/monochromatic look -- and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is especially good and the depth is impressive, which adds impact to the landscape shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Just check out the train wreck sequence to see how lovingly mixed this track is. We get distinct sounds coming from the front and rear channels, creating a real sense of space. These sounds, and the score, never drown out the dialogue. The stereo effects show good separation and the rear effects aren't just mimicking the front. The subwoofer effects are strong, but never to the point that they create distortion.

The Lone Ranger Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extras. "Armie's Western Road Trip" (15 minutes) takes us on-location and behind the scenes to see the film being shot. We see the cast and crew in Monument Valley, and watch Hammer ride a dirt bike through the desert. We also hear his reflections on being in these majestic places. The actors had to go through a "boot camp" (was that supposed to be a joke?) and we watch them go through the training in "Becoming the Cowboy" (8 minutes). "Riding the Rails The Lone Ranger" (11 minutes) shows us how a special train track was built just for the movie, and looks at the train sequences. The Disc contains one DELETED SCENE which runs about 4 minutes. The odd thing is that it's presented in animatic form with subtitles and no spoken dialogue. The final extra is a 4 minute reel of BLOOPERS.

Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long